After a descent that lasted nearly two months, mortgage rates have started climbing again.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average increased to 3.83 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.78 percent a week ago and 3.48 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.13 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.08 percent a week ago and 2.76 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average climbed to 3.17 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.13 percent a week ago and 2.8 percent a year ago.
Since mid-July, the 30-year fixed rate had been on a slow decline. Now it appears back on the ascent. Mortgage rates are influenced by several factors but tend to follow the path of long-term bond yields, which also have been on the rise. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.28 percent Wednesday, up from 2.05 percent on Sept. 7.
The Federal Reserve’s announcement Wednesday that it will begin to unwind its balance sheet is likely to push rates higher. But the central bank’s news came too late in the week to have an effect on Freddie Mac’s survey. The government-backed mortgage-backer aggregates rates weekly from 125 lenders nationwide to come up with national average mortgage rates.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that experts it surveyed have differing opinions on where rates are headed. Most said they expect rates to remain relatively stable in the coming week. About a third predict they will rise and about a quarter say they will fall.
Logan Mohtashami, senior loan officer at AMC Lending Group, is one who expects rates to hold steady.
“As always, the Fed language is key short term, and balance sheet reduction will be at a snail’s pace,” Mohtashami said. “Look for inflationary data over the next few months to move up due to the hurricanes and see if the bond market doesn’t bite on that data.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications fell off last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 9.7 percent. The refinance index dropped 9 percent, while the purchase index slumped 11 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 52.1 percent of all applications.
“The decline in application volume last week was influenced by a rise in rates, the ongoing impact of the hurricanes on Florida and Texas, and a potential slowdown following the Labor Day holiday week,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist.